Dartmouth cleantech startup Planetary Technologies has raised $7.8 million, including $4.2 million of equity funding and $3.6 million of grants to pilot its technology.
The investors include Nova Scotia venture capital Crown corporation Innovacorp and Apollo Projects, which is a venture capital firm owned by American tech luminaries the Altman brothers. Apollo invests in “moonshots” — technologically daunting but socially or ecologically important innovations — and the three founding brothers include Sam Altman, who was previously the president of internationally recognized startup accelerator Y Combinator.
The seven-figure round is also significant because it is further evidence that Atlantic Canadian oceantech startups are able to attract private equity investors from outside the region, which had been a challenge a few years ago.
Founded in 2018 under the name Planetary Hydrogen, the company has developed a system to convert alkaline rocks left over from mining operations into a substance called bicarbonate, which it will release into the ocean to counteract ocean acidification and chemically extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. An alkaline substance is one with a pH greater than seven — essentially the opposite of an acid.
The process is the brainchild of Chief Technology Officer Greg Rau and creates hydrogen as a byproduct, which the company sells, as well as carbon credits.
“The global community agrees that we need a three-pronged approach to stop the harmful effects of climate change – adapt, reduce emissions and remove carbon – and Planetary’s process does all three, the most critical being our ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air,” said CEO Mike Kelland in a press release.
Planetary said its technology is distinct from other carbon capture systems because storing carbon dioxide in the oceans means it can be kept out of the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years.
The company also said the bicarbonate it releases will potentially help heal marine ecosystems damaged by climate change. It encourages the growth of organisms like coral and shellfish, thereby bolstering food chains.
The pilot projects for which Planetary Hydrogen raised the $7.8 million will be based in Quebec and Nova Scotia. Both pilots are slated to begin later this year as part of “a major oceans research project in coordination with local partners,” although the company did not clarify the nature of the research project in its press release.
Kelland said last year the company’s goal was to be removing a gigaton (a billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually by 2035.
Also last year, Planetary was one of 10 companies to participate in the first cohort of the New York-based Carbon to Value Initiative, which aims to foster the growth of the "carbontech" ecosystem.It was also the lone winner in the "oceanshot" category of the Ocean Startup Challenge, for which it won a $200,000 prize.
Planetary now has three openings on its Careers page, which can be found here. They are:
- Metallurgical-Electrochemical Engineer
- Mining-Metallurgical Engineer
- UK Coordinator